Over 300 Black women gathered for a photo near the Capitol on June 6 to raise awareness about voting. Photo by Sandra Long Weaver

By Sandra Long Weaver

NASHVILLE, TN — The message went out over the weekend. #BlackWomenforTN showed up in emails, texts, on Facebook and Twitter. Phone calls were made.

Black women in Middle Tennessee dressed in black needed to gather on the steps behind the Capitol facing Bicentennial Park for a Unity photo on June 6.

And over 300 women answered the call from Charlane Oliver, one of the founders of Equity Alliance.

They were Generation X-ers, Generation Z-ers, Millenials and Baby Boomers. They dressed in business or evening attire and sometimes athletic gear. Some were using walkers or canes and some were in stilettos. They came with friends and made new friends.

They were beautiful.

“We care about voting and making our voice heard at he ballot box and making sure people understand voting power,” Oliver said. “We have important races locally and across the state. We have an open Senate seat and an open Governor’s seat. Literally, next year in Tennessee, leadership will look different.”

Oliver had expected maybe 50 or 100 women to show up.  She was more than thrilled when over 300 women turned out. “I’m still on Cloud 9 from what I just witnessed,” she said. The gathering sent a message: “We cannot be denied, overlooked or taken for granted. And neither will our votes,” she said. 

“In 2018 we are seeing a huge wave of Black women take on political positions,” Oliver said. “We want to leverage power we have unite black women for healing, bridge the generational divide.” 

The Unity photo will be used on an invitation that will soon go out inviting people to attend a brunch on July 14 where four Black women will be honored;  two who are  pioneers in Tennessee politics and two for their work behind the scenes, Oliver said.

She added that Equity Alliance hopes to hold one or two events a month. “We will do things around voter registration, policy agendas, health, economic equality, women-owned businesses and voting rights. 

Oliver said the non-partisan group wants to focus on getting people out to the polls for the August primary. She pointed out that the group’s work is not exclusive to any racial group. “But charity starts at home. We have to start with us before we can take care of others,” she said.

She said Equity Alliance will host Voting is Lit, a community block party near a precinct in Antioch to encourage people to vote. “Research shows that increase voter turnout by as much as 6 percent,” she said.

“Black women are magical and that was obvious today,” Oliver said after the photo shoot. “I’m inspired by so many women you and seasons, straight and LGBT prideful, millennials and baby boomers, CEOs and elected officials who all answered the call from The Equity Alliance because that’s what we do. We get it done. Don’t sleep on us in November. We are coming.”